Salazar Announces $305 Million Economic Stimulus Investment through the Bureau of Land Management to Restore Landscapes, Develop Renewable Energy, and Create Jobs
by Alex Ferreras on March 19, 2010
Red Rock National Conservation Area, Nevada –Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced $305 million will fund more than 650 Bureau of Land Management projects across the country under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The investments will restore landscapes and habitat, spur renewable energy development on public lands, and create jobs.
Overall, the Department of the Interior will manage $3 billion in investments as part of the recovery plan signed by the President to jumpstart our economy, create or save jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century.
“The President has said that our nation has a ‘moral, environmental, economic, and security imperative to address our dependence on foreign oil and tackle climate change in a serious, sustainable manner,’” Secretary Salazar said. “Many of these BLM investments, including several here in Nevada, will lay the groundwork for our clean energy future by opening the new energy frontier and creating new, green jobs here in America.”
“Through these economic recovery investments, we are also making a down payment on restoring and protecting the stunning landscapes that BLM manages on behalf of the American people.” Salazar explained. “We will conserve habitat, restore watersheds, clean up abandoned mine sites and wells, and build a legacy of stewardship of which we can be proud.”
Investments in Nevada: BLM stimulus funding in Nevada will provide $26.4 million for more than 40 projects, including investments in renewable energy, habitat restoration, roads, bridges and trails, abandoned mines and capital improvements. About $1.2 million of that total will be used to install solar power systems at 16 BLM fire stations in the State, including one next to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The photovoltaic systems will be wired into the electric services at the stations, providing power with a savings in utility payments and reducing their carbon footprint.
Renewable Energy: BLM is investing $41 million through the ARRA to advance the nation’s development and transmission of renewable energy on public lands. These funds will be invested in reducing the backlog of pending applications for wind and solar projects on BLM-managed land. If approved in the permitting process, these large-scale renewable energy projects will create new jobs and increase renewable energy supplies. In addition, these funds will be invested in regional planning and siting of future development and transmission of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy. Coordinating the development and transmission of renewable energy on a regional scale will accelerate the approval of projects and the creation of jobs associated with the projects.
Protecting Treasured Landscapes: The BLM is investing more than $100 million in projects that will create jobs while restoring and protecting the lands they manage on behalf of the American people. The investments include:
$37 million for habitat restoration. A typical project will create jobs in the restoration of watersheds, provide clean and increased volumes of water for recreational and agricultural uses, and help stabilize wildlife populations
$53.35 million to clean up abandoned mines on BLM lands through the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program and legacy wells through the Alaska Legacy Well Remediation program. These projects are near public places and high-use areas such as trails, designated off-highway vehicle areas, and picnic areas.
$15 million to construct, maintain, repair and improve recreational trails. Funds will also be used to make safety improvements, provide trailhead facilities, such as parking, restrooms or staging areas, information and interpretation, and improve accessibility for people with disabilities. The projects include:
$800,000 will be used to repair and restore non-motorized trails within the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area located outside Henderson, Nev.;
$260,000 will be used to hire the Western Colorado Youth Corps to maintain 175 miles of trail and construct 10 miles of trail in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area outside of Grand Junction, Colo.; and
$400,000 to be used to construct safety shelters along the 2,300 mile Iditarod National Historic Trail in western Alaska.
Construction, Maintenance and Energy Efficiency Improvements at BLM Facilities: To better protect visitors and employees, address critical health and safety problems at its facilities, and reduce energy use, BLM is investing $143 million in construction, maintenance, roads bridges, and energy efficiency improvements. These funds will also be used to construct new facilities where needed due to increasing numbers of visitors at recreation sites. The BLM will replace aging, deficient communications towers on BLM public lands and make many of its facilities more energy efficient, thereby reducing energy related costs in the long-term. Specific examples of how these funds will be used include:
Campground construction in the Joe Skeen campground on National Conservation Area land in New Mexico;
a new field office in Fillmore, Utah, that replaces structures with serious health and safety issues with safe, state-of the-art energy efficient facilities; and
the replacement of Montana’s Judith Landing Boat Ramp, a critical health and safety project that will dramatically decrease the chance of serious injury to users.
The BLM projects were selected in a rigorous merit-based process based on longstanding priorities of the agency, as will all projects included in the Department’s Recovery Act funding.
Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department of the Interior’s economic recovery projects.
The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General to ensure that the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency that President Obama has set.
The BLM manages more land – 256 million surface acres – than any other federal agency. It also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Because the BLM manages its lands for a variety of uses, it will play a crucial role in advancing the country’s ability to develop renewable energy, restore critical wildlife and plant habitat, and remediate abandoned mine sites.
More information on the American Recovery and reinvestment Act of 2009 and Interior stimulus funding is available at www.doi.gov/recovery.